Chicken Soup For The Malaysian Soul

It is not the world’s 5th hottest hot springs that is located here or the many natural attractions, even though they are awesome. It is the people.

Every local person I crossed path with, while driving or walking, young or old; smiled or waved at me. All I have to do is look at them.

They know I am a stranger or outsider, for sure. Unlike other touristy places, the people in this kampung are not dependent on visitors or are peddling anything.

When you speak with them, you will understand the warm reactions are from the goodness of their hearts, instinctive hospitality and colour blindness.

So if you are tired of the endless race-baiting and bickering by politicians, take a drive to the countryside where the real Malaysia is. It is chicken soup for the soul.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f5.6, 1/80 sec.

The Bhai Bicycle

The vintage Raleigh bicycle used to be known as the Bhai bicycle as it was preferred by local Sikhs who were bigger in physique.

It was also popular with mobile hawkers as it can manage heavy cargo. This one is missing the center stand, chain box, dynamo, teardrop-shaped headlight and bell.

The likeable thing about Mokhtar is that he is not an aloof or narrowly-focused man, given his fame and success. He engages you in a genuine conversation and can talk about anything under the sun.

The baker asked me which other Slim River attraction I will be visiting next.

Me: I like to hear your recommendations.

Mokthar: I can tell you like places with “character”.

Me: True. That’s why I am here.

Mokhtar: Go to Slim Village then, where there is a strange town square. And don’t forget to visit the nearby hot springs and waterfalls.

Me: I like strange places.

Mokthar: I know. You are strange, too.

He proceeded to give me some very specific and useful directions. With a kaya bun in hand, off I went chasing waterfalls again.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 125, f4, 1/320 sec.

Laundry Day In Slim River

When I saw this house from across the road, I knew the dark planks will play tricks on the camera’s exposure reading. It will overexpose the picture if there is no manual intervention.

Photography Tip: Make your brain an important part of the exposure metering process with street photography. I anticipated a -1 EV compensation. I was already rolling the EV compensation dial before bringing the camera to eye level.

This is where the high-resolution WYSIWYG electronic viewfinder of the Sony A7R (or any good mirrorless camera) is superior to an optical viewfinder.

You can fine tune the exposure (and white balance) precisely without bracketing, firing several shots or chimping by the roadside.

Judging via the viewfinder alone, I dialed it further down to -1.7 EV. The pre-estimation saved time as the road where I walked was narrow, the traffic busy and therefore dangerous. I must get it right with one take and as quickly as possible.

On the road and without a calibrated monitor, I don’t like to mess around with RAW. As such, it is important the JPEG is spot on and ready for upload from location, without further adjustments.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f9, 1/250 sec.

The Quintessential Small Town Coffee Shop

A sepia rendition of an old kopitiam in Main Street, Behrang. This is a typical coffee shop found on many one-street towns along the ‘old road’ or Federal Route 1.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f6.3, 1/250 sec.

A Bolt Of Lightning

A girl cycling past an old shop wall with a big crack. It looks like wall art featuring a bolt of black lightning. Something else hit the town dwellers.

Tanjung Malim people seem to be unusually curious and conscious about the presence of a stranger with a camera. And I don’t even use a neck strap or a big camera.

A few stopped cycling, walking and even driving just to watch me work. At this spot, several courteous pedestrians and cyclists crossed the street to avoid getting into frame, thinking I wanted to shoot the wall alone.

During my walkabout, some came forward to talk instead of me approaching them. One guy ran after me to tell me there is a interesting building in the opposite direction.

Good people.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f5.6, 1/250 sec.